One year ago today, Walter and I got married! I can’t believe that a year has already gone by, but I also can’t believe that we haven't been married for years and years. I sent him the bride emoji after our first date. Something inside of me just knew.
Walter and I chose to elope in Las Vegas for our wedding. Caroline and Ryan had a gorgeous elopement in Hocking Hills, which I’m sure she will touch on when their (SIXTH!!!) anniversary comes up next year. Care and I are so similar, it’s not a surprise at all that this is the route we both decided to take - and both of us have become the biggest advocates for eloping since!
I have never been the girl with big wedding dreams. My nightmare is a full day where I am the main focus, everyone wants to talk to me, and there is an audience watching my every move. I knew that I just wanted to be married to Walter. I couldn’t wait to be his wife. When he agreed to elope, I was thrilled. It allowed me to have my true dream wedding day: to be with him, in the moment, fully enjoying one another. I couldn’t have imagined it any other way.
Walter proposed to me while I was wearing a Pamela Anderson t-shirt after he took me on a roadside attraction tour all over southern Ohio. We went to Grandpa’s Cheese Barn, had lunch inside of a train car, and visited the world’s largest cuckoo clock. We got into our pajamas and went to see Baywatch in theaters after. We couldn’t stop giggling the entire day. I tell you this because it sets the scene. We are a goofy couple. All that we knew is that we didn’t want to wait much longer to be married to one another. So, we immediately booked a trip to Las Vegas and it turned out to be the absolute perfect choice for us.
Two months later, we were on our way out to Vegas. I remember wearing a hat that said “BRIDE” at the airport (subtle) and having a beer at the Sammy Hagar bar before we got on the plane. I was practically vibrating with excitement. We stayed at the Mirage hotel which is freaking GOLD on the outside and has a full rainforest in their lobby. It was perfect.
On our wedding day, we woke up and saw a baby dolphin that was at our hotel, had lunch at the Sugar Factory, swam in the pool, and went to go get married. I have been both to and in weddings that are an all day affair - wake up and get glammed up, hours of photos in heels, then a party that goes all night. That’s wonderful for many people, but our wedding day had such low pressure and was so relaxing - I just couldn’t believe that it was so easy. I wore a rose gold sequined wedding dress that I ordered from China for $30 and a pair of Converse sneakers. I wanted my look to be true to me: flashy, fun, and very classic Vegas. We bought our wedding bands at one of those kiosks at the mall where you can get cheap charm bracelets. The only jewelry that I wore was a gold chain that says "Walter." We took our own photos on an Instax camera while getting ready together in the hotel room. I cannot stress to you how little I care about wedding stuff - LOL.
The actual wedding was SO much fun. We got married at A Little White Wedding Chapel (where Britney Spears famously married her childhood friend) which was the ideal amount of gaudy. They sent a limo to our hotel to pick us up, and we listened to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” five times on repeat before we realized that we could change the music from the back seat. We walked down the aisle together to the wedding march being played on CD from an actual boom box. We laughed and cried throughout the entire ceremony. It is the most special memory of my entire life.
Our families were, thankfully, SO supportive of our decision. When we got back to Cleveland, Walter’s family threw us a huge party in their backyard. Both of our families and all of our friends came together and ate BBQ from a food truck, had East Coast Custard for dessert, and got airbrushed t-shirts and hats as party favors to commemorate the occasion. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate with the people that we love in a casual setting with no real pressure.
I am writing this to let every person out there who doesn't want a traditional wedding know that it's okay. Putting yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable with what should be the best day of your life is not a healthy move for anyone. You should be able to look back on that memory and think that you did exactly what you wanted to celebrate your love. I have heard a lot of people tell me that their families pushed them into having a big wedding, or that they felt pressured to do so by societal standards. Personally, I had a couple of friends that were relentless in trying to make me feel guilty about not having a public wedding or a bridal party. At first, I was upset by their negative comments. I wondered why they couldn't just be happy for me. After a while I realized that Walter and I were the only people who were required to be happy about the way that we were doing things. I was tired of feeling bad about the way that I was celebrating this new chapter in my life. I made sure that my dad, who also eloped with my mom, did not feel any sense of loss by not walking his only child down the aisle. He was just happy for me that I had found someone that I love so deeply. So, I just let everything else go. My only focus was my wonderful husband, and how filled with gratitude I was that we had found one another.
My advice is just to do it YOUR way. If that's a huge wedding surrounded by the people that you love, then go for it! If that's a tiny ceremony, or if it's just your to two having your moment together, then do that. Your feelings are the only ones that truly matter. I bet that even the most skeptical people will be dancing with you at your reception, or giving you a huge congratulatory hug the next time you get together!
We were to lucky that we were able to have our wedding be a moment for us, with no distractions to take us away from how we were feeling. It is a memory that gives me butterflies any time I think back on it: just the two of us in that tacky old chapel in Vegas, squeezing each other’s hands so tight to try to hold in laughter and hold back tears, ending the night with a steak dinner and then a glass of champagne in our pajamas.